The story of the week has been the confirmed poisoning of a white-tailed eagle found dead on a shooting estate in Dorset in January, and Dorset Police’s astonishing decision to close the investigation even though toxicology results had proved that poisoning was the cause of death (see here, here, here, here and here).
There’s still much more to come out about this story and I’ve spoken to a few journalists in the last few days who are making some headway. Let’s see what they produce in the coming days.
Meanwhile, in the course of these conversations I’ve learned that another white-tailed eagle is suspected to have been poisoned on a shooting estate in Dorset.
I’ve deliberately used the word ‘suspected’ in this case because unlike the first eagle, poisoning hasn’t been confirmed and the eagle hasn’t died.
This second case is not on the same shooting estate where the dead (confirmed poisoned) eagle was found, but it is on another game-shooting estate and it is nearby.
I understand that initially, this second eagle’s satellite tag data indicated that the eagle’s movements were unusual and this was a cause for concern given the eagle’s location and proximity to the area where the poisoned eagle had been found dead. A multi-agency team made a site visit to look for this second eagle and they found it, still alive but displaying some of the characteristic physical traits of a raptor that has ingested a large amount of an anticoagulant rodenticide (e.g. lethargic, head-drooping).
While on site searching for the sick eagle, a number of undisclosed items were apparently discovered which sparked a multi-agency raid on the estate a short while later and I understand that as a result of that search, multiple toxicology results are now pending from the lab.
The second eagle appears to have since made a recovery and has recently moved away from the estate, although long-term health issues may still be an issue. Time will tell.
It’s important to emphasise that at this stage poisoning (rodenticide or another substance) has not been confirmed but it is suspected.
What’s interesting about this second investigation is that the police considered there was sufficient evidence to conduct a multi-agency search, even though toxicology results were still pending. This is in direct contrast to the police’s response to the first case where toxicology results from the dead eagle had confirmed that poisoning was the cause of death and that the high concentration of rodenticide in the eagle’s liver (7 x the lethal dose) was clearly indicative of suspicious activity, and yet Dorset Police decided not to progress that investigation.
This is quite hard to fathom, although I suspect that this multi-agency search on the other estate took place in early March under the direction of the diligent and highly-competent wildlife crime officer, Claire Dinsdale. The ridiculous decision not to progress the first investigation (into the circumstances of the dead, confirmed-poisoned eagle) appears to have been made later in March after Claire Dinsdale had apparently been signed off on indefinite sick leave.
I look forward to the publication of the latest toxicology reports, which should be available by now, surely, and full disclosure from Dorset Police about the status of this second investigation, as well as an explanation about why the first investigation was closed prematurely, especially when Dorset Police would have known about this second case of suspected poisoning on an estate in close proximity to where the dead poisoned eagle had been found.
21 thoughts on “Another eagle suspected poisoned on a Dorset shooting estate”
The facts so far are truly awful.
Well done Ruth – keep digging and keep going.
The many decisions by different police forces throughout the country smacks of the the British mafia that very few talk about. The Masons. So many decisions are made by people in authority that so often seem to protect the powerful that allude to this shadowy organisation that no wonder the Masons want to keep their “behind closed doors” manouverings close to their chests. It is often alleged that to rise up the ranks in the police service, and certain other institutions, being a member of the Masons is one of the requirements. If this is’nt correct then it can easily be proven wrong by members of the masons having to declare their membership as part of there contractural obligations to their employer. That way outside influences in decision making would much more obvious and far less of a problem.
This is something new for the Dorset Shooting Estates ( poisoned and suspected birds of prey on or near their land) as Sea Eagles, have only recently being recently introduced to this area.
Given the impunity with which raptor poisoners and persecutioners appear to go about their work in the Highlands of Scotland similar characters assume the same situation will exist in Dorset.
Let’s hope they are wrong.
It was the same in Yorkshire following the release of Red Kites in 1999. Being able to locate dead birds and establish that they had been poisoned confirmed what many people had suspected had been happening for years, especially in the Nidderdale AONB. Sadly, it is still happening.
It looks very much as though the knowledge that a search in relation to the second case had produced potentially incriminating evidence may well have influenced the decision not to go looking for any in the first case! The joint time-line on the two cases should make very interesting reading. Good to hear that there is considerable journalistic interest in the cases. Hope they stick with it.
I emailed the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner for information on the first eagle incident. Had acknowledgement of my email but received no further communication.
This whilst very very anger inducing makes the dropping of the first case even more strange making it look more and more like the result of undue influence, which go against the police oath or straight corruption. Hopefully further journalistic work will mean this is not the end of investigations.
Two it is certainly true that poisoned Kites and disappeared satellite tagged Hen Harriers have highlighted what had and is happening in the NIdderdale AONB and YDNP but many of us knew criminality was rife there due to constant failure of nesting attempts, absences and disappearances of raptors in that area.
Best wishes & genuine thanks to the wildlife crime Officer mentioned. I can well imagine the levels of frustration & stress an Officer with a conscience will face when they stray from what their bosses would prefer them to be doing (i.e. catching the Neds out lamping / badger digging) and start poking about in the mafia-like world of nearly all commercial game shoots across the UK, be they high ground or low.
Ps. to my above comment -continued thanks to those Officers who are also battling to do the right thing elsewhere in the country in similar circumstances – often against their own hierarchy that tries its best to shut them down too.
The cynic in me says that is why we have police and crime commissioners, to do the bidding of the powerful and connected, often against the wishes and/or interests of the rest of us. We need police forces we can trust to uphold the law, investigate crime and always do the right thing, with fear or favour as their oath says. This all smacks of other than that as does the loss of effective wildlife officers elsewhere.
Without fear or favour Paul – LOL!
Ruth, your investigative skills are first class! This case / these cases and the subsequent behaviour of the police look very suspicious indeed and I do hope that the journalistic activities you mention will bring out the truth.
It does look like these WTE are generating interest outside our existing realms, and into the mainstream general public. These incidents hopefully will bring the issue of raptor persecution out if it’s niche and into the main psyche of the population. Once your average person starts to realise what has been going on the pressure for change will increase.
I think it’s time for a dedicated Wildlife Protection Force with full police powers to investigate and prosecute offenders.
Dorset police are either totally incompetent or corrupt, probably both.
Women police officers can have quite a difficult time of it. I hope this is not the case here, and that Claire Dinsdale makes a full recovery and is able to return to her job. I wish her well.
This incident, and all the other reported incidents involving raptors which have been poisoned, whether deliberately or as a result of secondary poisoning shows an absolute need to revue the current legislation regarding the sale and use of poisons.
How long is society going to tolerate the killing of its wildlife, and the danger that these poisons also present to people and their pets before something is done to eradicate this evil once and for all?
There are other ways to remove pest species which do not require the use of poisons.
If poison is seen as the only option, then should not the use of poisons be regulated so that it can only be carried out by specially trained operatives working for a company who are brought in to deal with a specific issue, and who will follow very strict procedures?
We could have an amnesty for those in possession of poison to hand it in to the authorities, and after that period any poisoned wildlife found would result in prosecution of the landowner/tenant or estate manager?
This isn’t an impossible to problem to resolve, and it angers me that yet again we find ourselves in a situation which wildlife criminals can manipulate to commit their crimes and avoid justice.
How many wildlife conservation projects are being hindered because someone, somewhere disagrees, so resorts to to criminal behaviour to try and kill whatever species is trying to be reintroduced, or is so stupid that they fail to follow the guidelines regarding the use poison and so put all of nature at risk?
What an absurd situation.
Perhaps when the government talk about an action plan for nature recovery, species abundance and payment for public good etc- then is it not reasonable to also think that this plan also needs to include strict regulations on the use of poison, pesticides and other chemicals, which can be so harmful to nature?
Well seen the police have been told to drop the investigation by some senior plod who was probably told ” let things go old boy. ”
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Fantastic work RPUK.